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Our current political climate hasn’t been this polarized since the Civil War, says social psychologist and speaker Robb Willer. An antidote to this hyper-polarization is Willer’s technique of “moral reframing,” which teaches opposing groups to advocate for their beliefs through the lens of their opponent’s. Willer’s brilliant, timely talks provide both the wisdom and tools needed to challenge polarization at a time when we need it more than ever.
How would you persuade a passionately decisive opponent to change their mind? First step, says Stanford professor and behavior expert Robb Willer, realize that you can’t just use the appeal that you find most convincing. As he explains in his TED Talk (which has been viewed more than two million times), think about how you can reconfigure the terms of your position to suit their beliefs, values, and morals. “It sounds obvious,” says Willer, “and even though it is, it’s something we really struggle to do. We talk like we’re addressing a mirror.” Through his rigorously-tested technique of “moral reframing”, Willer shows how real, no-trickery persuasion begins through empathizing with the other side. It’s about discovering with what the person you disagree with tends to care about, and using that as the foundation for how you share you beliefs; creatively finding ways for your position to fit with their values.
In keynotes and custom workshops, Willer demonstrates the political, social, and professional uses of strategic persuasion. This is a skill to be learned, and one that relates to discussions as varied as same-sex marriage, sustaining the environment, and organizational culture. In his clear and warmly funny talks, Willer shows how the responsibility falls on all of us, no matter our political allegiance, to bridge these value gaps: and there is so much to be gained from that.
Co-director of the Philanthropy and Civil Society Center at Stanford, Willer was recently appointed Director of Stanford’s landmark Polarization and Social Change Lab, where he and his team are developing ambitious projects on reducing political bias, bridging political divides, and constructive political communication. At Stanford, Willer is also a professor of sociology, psychology, and organizational behavior, where he focuses on the forces that bring people together – like trust and cooperation – and forces that divide them – like politics and morality. Willer’s work explores the social psychology of political attitudes, including the effects of fear, prejudice, and masculinity in contemporary U.S. politics, as well as how to make the work we do more meaningful.
We tend to make political arguments in terms of our own moral values. So, when liberals make the case for same-sex marriage and conservatives make theirs for small government, they communicate using a moral compass that speaks only to them. The problem with this method, says Robb Willer, is that it doesn’t convince anyone who isn’t already convinced. In this talk, Willer will explain his technique of moral reframing and all its uses. Your audience will come away with the insight and tools to make new arguments that speak to the morals of whoever it is they’re hoping to persuade. The potential, as Willer explains, is transformative.